Now available in e-book and paperback

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In this surreal road novel, Anthony searches for the father he’s never met: Andy Kaufman, the legendary song-and-dance man from the ’70s. There’s a few problems here, of course. A) Andy Kaufman died in 1984, and B) Thanks to a recent cancer diagnosis, Anthony doesn’t have much longer to live, either. However, new evidence has come to light that questions whether or not Kaufman is actually dead. Could he be in hiding, after all these years? Anthony is determined to discover the truth before his own clock runs out. During his travels, he will encounter shameless medicine men, grifters, Walmart shoppers, the ghosts of Elvis and Warhol, and the Devil himself.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

SURVIVING CANCER FOR YULE -- SEASON OF LIGHT


SEASON OF LIGHT 
(Surviving Cancer at Yule-time)

Several years ago, I was the first person to survive my cell-type of lymphoma in medical history. It should have burned me out in two months. I recovered during Yule, this winter holiday of light and hope. This is a special time for me. I’d always enjoyed the holiday, but my survival imbued it with new meaning of joy for me. So much of the anxiety and worry about the holiday left me, and I saw beauty. The lights glowed ever brighter, all the colors, all the spectral loveliness in life I would have lost if I had died. I had the comfort and warmth of friends. Everything tasted richer. That year I volunteered at Pennsbury Manor for Holly Night, the museum recreation of the home of William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania. All the hearths burned. Candles lined the paths down to the river. Natural garland and flowers decorated the site, and we wore period 18th century clothing, greeting visitors. A bonfire burned down at the river. Choirs sung. All the walls in my soul had been torn down. I embraced the beauty of the season, all the joy and hope of life. I celebrate every moment. You will all probably screech, but I love going to the malls this time of year, to see everyone shopping, the decorations, the bands playing. I savor every moment. I love this season, this time.

When we can’t find hope in the darkness, we create it. Most cultures of Earth who are subjected to the raw dark winter create a beating heart at the midway of time. We do it because we need it, igniting a candle in the night. When life slumbers, when the trees wait barren, when the cold wind rakes and the snow falls, locking the world in stasis, the soul cries out for reminders of the light, of the joys in nature, of the warmth. We engage in holiday customs and traditions, decorating our spirits with reminders of the light the same way we decorate our homes. We string lights against the night. We bring evergreen trees into our homes to remind us of eternal natural life. We give gifts to celebrate family and friendship, and will fill our days with love.



The perfect ornament for a Fox.

Many religions have claimed this time. The first of course was Yule or the cultural equivalent to it, the pagan traditions celebrating the solstice. This is the day I celebrate as a Bard. Later it was adapted by Christianity to assimilate the holiday. And many other faiths practice their own traditions. It all goes back to the root of hope in the darkness, halfway out of the night. You’ll see coeval basic symbolism in the myriad traditions like the pagan worship and celebration of the sun as new life and hope or the birth of the Christian savior, also new life and hope or the burning of oil, all symbols of light and hope.

It has been another successful year, and my writing career continues to flourish and leap beyond anything I dared to expect. And every year is uncertain. The cancer ticks away inside me. I am already past the due date. Everyday is a gift. This season is the celebration of my life and all the lives of the people I love. I know I probably can’t transfer my experience to you, my rising, my renewal, my return, but I can help you look for it, seek it. Fill your life with hope. Fill it with light. Burn candles in the darkness. Fill your heart with love. Our time is short. Celebrate it.

The Foxy Yule Tree this year.

*          *            *



THE UNDEAD THAT SAVED CHRISTMAS
An Anthology from Rainstorm Press

“Ginger and cinnamon,” he said, saliva dripping down the candy cane teeth. “My little drummer boy to crack your bones like walnuts. I’ll suck out the marrow like pudding, like sweet milky dripping pudding, lad.”
--Missing Christmas by T. Fox Dunham


If you’re looking for a great horror anthology for the holiday, check out Rainstorm Press and The Undead that Saved Christmas III. Some great authors in this one. I’ve got a story in here and so does my spiritual brother, Jay Wilburn. The profits go to benefit the Hugs Foster Family Agency (hugsffa.org) and will help them give their foster children gifts this holiday season. So buy some monsters and help some orphans before said monsters eat said orphans.

Picture


Stories Include:
 
Bad Parents - Gretchen Elhassani  
The Show Must Go On - Juliet Boyd  
Another Endless Night - Steven Gepp  
It Came Upon a Midnight Dreary - Stacey Graham
Colder than Hell up here… - Nathan Robinson

Winter Wonderland - Joshua Skye

The Christmas Maggot - Gary McKenzie

Santa’s Claw - Sarah L. Johnson

A Visit From Zombie Nicholas - Steven Gepp

The Deal that Saved Christmas - Essel Pratt

Bast’s Christmas Presents - Dana Bell

Bernard the Troll’s First Christmas Adventure - Philip Tebble

Most Wonderful Times - Jay Wilburn

Christmas Cricetus - M.E. Smith

In With the New - Tammy A. Branom

Santa's Bones - Christopher L. Irvin

Missing Christmas – See You Next Year! - T. Fox Dunham

The Christmas Preta - C.M. O’Connor

Krampusz - Nathan J.D.L Rowark

Christmas Fetish - Edward J Russell 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

WRITING WHAT YOU LOVE



“I’m burying my body,” she said. “It died. They just put batteries in my stomach so I keep ticking. I want to fly home.”
           
 The fox whipped its head, and it darted by her, brushing her cheek with its length of furry tail. It ran around the house, and she followed it, picking up her skirts to give chase. She ran through thistles, but she felt no sting. She ran to the drive, but she could not find the fox. She scanned the streets, but the blind animal had run on the wind and slipped down the path between worlds.

--Walking to the Otherworld with the Blind Fox by T. Fox Dunham


WRITING WHAT YOU LOVE

Our greatest resource as authors is our personal experience and the emotion with which we imbue these experiences. Without emotion, our work is dry, insipid, uninspired, and the reader will drop the story as fast as monochromatic stereo instructions.

Often I am asked for advice by other authors on their stories or story ideas, some wee wormwood plant they’re having trouble growing, and I see the same collywobbles. The problem is usually not in the prose or the plot. Crafting a story is different from telling it. The real issue is in the source material, the source emotion behind the story.

For a story to be vibrant and star-burning, it must be written from strong emotion. This supernova feeling will be enchanted into the plot and prose and will transfer to the reader. Your emotion will compel stronger writing, will drive you deeper as an author. Writing from this emotion will energize you, whether it is directly from events in your life or story elements inspired by your life. The strongest force in your writing will be those things you care about.

It goes back to the old writing wisdom: Write what you know. Well this partially works. I’ve never been in a zombie apocalypse, so how am I going to write about one? I write historic fiction, but I didn’t fight in The War to End All Wars (There have been several of them that didn’t deliver). So you can’t take this literally. I expand on it. Write what you care about. Write those things you feel. You all know my work about cancer as I explore my death and rebirth. It’s been a few years, but for me, it still feels like I never left that Radiation Oncology Ward at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I draw from experiences, but more importantly, I summon my deep emotions about what I and so many suffered. I make it personal, show it from my point of view. I make it my own. Truth is all these stories have been told over and over again. We can only write them again from our unique viewpoints. Philadelphia has significant meaning to me, so I often set my stories in the city. Stephen King loves Maine, so he’s made it famous as a dark and terrible place where loved ones rise out of the grave and clowns try to eat your face. (I’ve actually spent several summers in Maine and love it there, especially the fishing. I only saw a few wendigos and devils opening mom-and-pop stores.) What makes these stories successful is not the detail we know because we are familiar with these settings, though that’s vital. It’s our love of the place. Our readers feel this love.

So if you’ve got a problem with your story, go back to the source. Are you writing something about which you feel strongly? Or feel at all? Writers have an intellectual crafting mind and a heart. They need to be in union for your work to be successful. Draw from your mind and your heart. Should I write this story about a junkyard in Detroit where I’ve never been? Or in my grandfather’s apple orchard when I was a kid? What will be stronger? What will be easier for you to write? When it flows sans struggle. When it pours out of you like it’s bleeding from an artery severed by a sticky Coke bottle shard, then you’re writing with your mind and heart. This union of spirit and mind is holy for we Bards. We call it Impas.



INTERVIEW WITH SARAH E. HOLROYD of SLEEPING CAT BOOKS.

I have a treat for all you Fox Boys & Girls. I was recently included in the anthology Trip of a Lifetime from Sleeping Cat Books. Walking to the Otherworld with the Blind Fox. It’s a story based on some of my real journeys as a Bardic Shaman. I wrote from deep emotion.

“I can’t dream anymore,” Kate said. “I have moments in sleep when I hear a child sobbing, but I can’t look at her. If I could open my eyes, I’d see an angel. My heart couldn’t take an angel weeping. If I open my eyes, they’ll fall out.”

“Come away, my darling Kate of the Roses,” Fox said. “I can show you a place that exists in the ‘tweens, where the shore meets the ocean. I can take you home.”

--Walking to the Otherworld with the Blind Fox by T. Fox Dunham


I had the good fortune to interview Sarah E. Holroyd, editor and publisher of the anthology:

So tell my foxy readers about this new book of yours from Sleeping Cat Books.

Trip of a Lifetime is the second themed multi-author anthology from Sleeping Cat Books. The theme for this book is very personal to me. I thought I was making my “trip of a lifetime” when my husband got a job that took us from the United States to Germany for three years. While the experience was immensely rewarding, I also found living in a foreign country, where I did not speak the language or know all the nuances of social interaction, more distressing than I’d imagined while planning for the move. When the three years were over, I found myself relieved that we would be leaving, even though I knew there were many things I would miss—the easy opportunity to travel high among them.

Since we knew we may never get the chance to travel Europe again after returning to the US, we decided to take an extended holiday in Paris before flying back. So while sorting through our belongings, scheduling the movers, and dropping the car off for shipping back home, we booked a temporary apartment that would allow our cat and bought one-way train tickets.
This is, truly, the trip of my lifetime. As I sit here in a tiny Paris studio apartment (smaller than one of the three storeys of our German house) writing these words, I know that I never want to leave this city. What began as a simple vacation destination has turned into a newfound home. This personal revelation about my own trip prompted me to create a collection describing other trips.  


Why should we spend minutes of our down-ticking lives to read it?

This book is an opportunity to experience the work of some great writers who may be new to you. I’ve always been a fan of short-story collections for this reason. You get to sample several different genres in bite-sized pieces, and hopefully discover writers whose work you want to explore further. 


So why become a publisher when you could be a police officer or mine worker?

Or a better question would be, why become a publisher when you could be a writer. I have tried my hand at writing, and have had a couple of short pieces published, but I’ve consistently lacked the discipline to finish a novel manuscript, as has always been my dream, no matter how many times I start one. I’ve come to realize that my love of words and stories and imagination is much better served, and put to better use, by helping true authors hone their work, and then sharing it with the world at large. This is where I find fulfillment for both my analytical and creative sides. 


What were some of your favorite stories in the anthology, those that you knew were going into the collection after the first few paragraphs?

Now, Fox, that’s not a fair question. That’s like asking a grade school teacher to choose a favorite among her pupils. I was drawn to each piece in this collection for different reasons, and they all have their own meanings to me, and their own reasons for being a part of the whole. I hope that each piece challenges the reader in as many ways as they challenged me when I had to make my decisions. 


So how did you find yourself transplanted from the mid-American states to Paris?

[that’s part of the first answer] 


And what will the Sleeping Cat do in the future once it wakes again?

Hmmm, wouldn’t you like to know? Like all cats, we like to maintain our mysteriousness. But stay tuned to the website and Facebook page because when the Cat does wake up, that’s where he goes first!


I thank you Sarah.
http://sleepingcatbooks.com

TRIP OF LIFETIME
Available at Amazon.com




AUTHORS:
Carol Alexander Ken Goldman Dawn Anderson Sevart
Carole Bellacera Michelle Hartman Mary Sexson
Dianne Bown-Wilson Ann Howells Gill Shutt
T. A. Branom Susan L. Kaminga JeFF Stumpo
Tony Wayne Brown Priscilla Kipp Bruce Turnbull
Ann Carter Joshua J. Mark Susan Vespoli
Krikor Der Hohannesian Michael McLaughlin Jon Wesick
Bruce Louis Dodson James Olivieri Jen White
T. Fox Dunham Carl Palmer
Jay Faulkner Eileen Dawson Peterson
 

Monday, October 8, 2012

WRITING HORROR


“Let’s get away from this place, Joe. The ground’s bad here. Too much blood’s fed it. The ground’s thirsty for more.”

--From Last Dance in the Rain by T. Fox Dunham featured in Enter at Your Own Risk: Fire & Phantoms from Firbolg Publishing.

BUY ME @ ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK ON AMAZON!!


WRITING HORROR – How I sell everything I write
&
The Fox True Ghost Story Project
&
Author Interview with Scott M. Goriscack, author of 'Horrorism'.


I bid warm summer and warmer fishing farewell. I clung onto every day, getting to all my new fishing spots and pulling some fine ones out of the water. Today, I put away my sandals and embraced the cool night air after my D&D session at Royal Comics. I DM a game on Sundays to the great benefit of my writing, which I will speak about in another post.

I’m always afraid this will be my last summer, and now the days are rotting apples on the ground, not for tasting or juicing. Still, I must have hope.

I’m very excited about my new month long zine, The Fox True Ghost Story Project. This is a zine for people to tell their true ghost story experiences and share their photographs. The site has gotten quite a response, and I’ve gotten a number of stories. Also, Morning Starr has drawn me a beautiful graphic for the title. If you have a true ghost story, please send it to me at foxghost@comcast.net. You need not be a professional author. Write it as if you’re telling a friend about what happened to you. I also love photos. I have just spoken with Steven LaChance, author of The Uninvited, about his experience with a demonic haunting. You can see it on A Haunting. He'll be talking about his experience on the site. I'm so excited. Check the website for submission details.


WRITING HORROR – How I sell everything I write

I’ve contributed a great deal of material to the horror field, and I find this to be my most successful realm of publication, my second being my literary work. I confess, being considered a horror author is a great surprise to me. Many authors call themselves horror authors in the community I’ve found myself welcomed into, but I cannot call myself such. I enjoy writing literary work with speculative dark elements and zombie work, but my first motivation has always been literary. Still, horror makes up the largest share of professional markets currently publishing. If you view Duotrope, you’ll find it’s the biggest genre looking for paid work. I do enjoy writing the darker work, and from my reader and author response, it is popular. Lori Michelle, editor at Dark Moon Books and Perpetual Motion Publishing, told me I have a much greater following than I realized. This is true. I have absolutely no idea who is reading my work. I cast my stories out like bastard children, and I don’t see them make a path in this world. I think that’s true for all of us.

In the previous paragraph is the point I wish to make about my horror writing, one of the secrets to my success. A salient trait in my work is its literary base in style and content. I write it just like I would my literary work. I start with character and give them a conflict, an emotional life and emotional storm they suffer. I write them, see them grow, fight, surrender or succeed and solve the question of their conflict. The horror element comes second, and by creating my character, I can tailor that dark element to the nature of shadow, that element which haunts them. Most new horror authors I speak with—I get inundated with fans or nascent authors seeking review and help (I apologize if I can’t help all of you being so ill)—are focused on the horror element itself, the zombies, the three-eyed monsters trying to sell you soul insurance or serial killer granny killing people with sewing needles in their eyes. Oh. That’s not half bad. Makes a note. Anyway, some of the concepts I hear are really quite good and compelling; however, when the story makes landfall onto a word processor, the author often sails onto desert and beaches in the sand. Or, they finish the story with less attention to the basics of plot or narrative and fail to find a publisher. I understand this. What draws the author to horror is a love of horror, of the monsters they read or the darkness in the human soul; unfortunately, being a horror reader is different from being a horror author. An author pays attention to different elements than a reader would. This is the same for authors in any genre, like scifi. Authors love the time machine, work out all the rules of time travel, about killing your own grandfather, but they fail to consider the character arc, emotional growth, plotting. When I submitted House of Decay to Dangers Untold Anthology, I remember reading Editor Jennifer Brozek's frustration on the anthology website for authors to pay more attention to important writing conventions like point of view. Many of the submissions she received had great substance but failed many of these basic conventions.

You are all amazing and so talented. You have the spirit and the vision to bring such stories of fancy and myth to the world. I say to you that a discipline must be found in the study of the art-form of the narrative story. This is a paradigm that has evolved over thousand of years, though mostly in the last 200 years as literacy has become universal as quality of life has improved in the world. The novel, the written short story is actually quite new. Before then, the major form of storytelling was an oral tradition. In fact, the word ‘novel’ also meaning 'new' evolved because people found the novel itself quite new. The history of the horror novel can be found in The Journal style, one of the earliest being Bram Stoker’s Dracula. From this style, point of view evolved.

I have two other secrets that ensures my writing prospers. The second is my original style and content. I think far outside of the box. I get bored with common ideas that have been written recently and often, and when I fish a new story, either because I want to hit an anthology or I’ve been asked to write something by an editor, I want to see what I can do with the concept, the idea. When I saw the Phobia Anthology from Blackhound Publishing which has recently been published, link below, I played with idea to give them something original. In my story, Fast Measures, I created a character with a literary problem. His wife is going to leave him because he is entirely fearless and is going to get himself killed. He hires a shady doctor to give him a phobia. I took the concept and twisted it, and the story won first placement. Take time with your ideas. Work them through. Change them. Modify them. Sing to them. Bake them. Don’t limit yourself. Blow the roof off. Be original. It’s all you’ve got. All these stories have been told before.

My other secret is the amount of physical and emotional pain in my life. A theme I’m known for is writing about cancer, illness and loss. I draw from these wells of energy in my life and weave them into my various stories. There’s the old writing axiom: Write what you know. It would be better to say: Write what you feel. I have deep emotion about these things, and I splatter them on the page. My novella New World for May-December Books in their Realms of Undead Novella Anthology is about a cancer survivor as he struggles between nihilism and hope as the spiritual meaning of the cosmos. This emotional arc is the heart of the story. The zombies are merely a device, as is the Rainbow Cult.

The High Priest opened his mouth and showed the crowd the gap in the top row of his pearlies.

“I lost control of the bus and nearly crashed through a dirty bookstore. I punched at him, missing, and he looked at me with these empty coffin eyes—all dead. And I listened. For the first time since I crawled out my mother’s womb, a zygote with an overblown sense of self-importance as one of God’s children, I listened. And that’s when he showed me the truth. ‘If we’d died in that crash, would anyone care in a century? Would history remember us?’ When I really chewed on it, I couldn’t figure out any way to argue with him. He ripped open my eyes.”


The crowed clapped and cheered. From their blankets and lawn chairs, they chucked more empty beer bottles.


“Shut the fuck up.”


The crowed silenced.


--From New World, Novella by T. Fox Dunham, featured in the four part novella anthology Realms of Undead published by May-December Publishing.


I hope you find my observations helpful. I sell everything I write, and I’m growing popular. This is how I do it.



AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SCOTT M. GORSIACK

Scott is a growing name in the horror community and one of the organizers of the horror society. He's recently released a horror anthology, Horrorism. When I read his work, I see potential for him to become one of the great horror authors of our time. I interview him below.

Tell us a bit about your anthology.
Why should your readers hurry to order your book and pay express shipping because they shouldn’t go another day without reading it?


There are a few reasons for someone to read my new collection “Horrorism.” Reason one is to get away from the status quo. I write to entertain not just the reader but also myself. I never want my work to resemble another author or film-maker. I challenge myself every time I turn on the computer to be original. We live in a world of remakes, prequels and sequels. Yes some of these works are entertaining but I don’t want to my work to be predictable. I want my readers to come back, again and again. My work is original. After reading my book I want the reader to want more I want them to recommend me or pass the book onto a friend. The second reason they should read “Horrorism” is to keep up with my writing. My next collection “Welcome to the Dark Side” is now complete and will be released in October 2012.



What were the sources of inspiration for the stories in the anthology and your work? From what wells do you draw?

My original inspiration for writing came when I was on an overnight canoe trip through the NJ. Pine Barrens with the Boy Scouts. The nightly ghost stories around the campfire at seemed a bit goofy, until the story of The Jersey Devil came up. I don’t know why but it frightened me to my very core. I had many sleepless nights after that. I remember writing the story down as told by the older scouts but I started to twist the details and make it more horrific. To date that story continues to grow into what I hope will be my first novel “American Gargoyle.” Presently it’s at four hundred pages and counting.

Probably the biggest inspiration in my life was meeting Mr. Clive Barker in 1993. Mr. Barker was promoting his new line of comics and was doing a signing at a local comic shop. I had seen his films and read his books so on a whim I went to see if he’d sign a few of his books I owned. I was toward the back of the line and when it was my turn to have him sign my books we started talking. He was kind enough to give me approximately ten minutes of his time. He offered me some great advice and from that moment he turned me and my writing to the dark side.


What advice would you give to other authors who want to produce an anthology?

Write and keep writing. Don’t think, just write. When you think you’re done read it again and again until you’ve exhausted your creativity. Satisfied that you have completed your thoughts reach down one last time into the deepest recesses of your mind and twist the last sentence of the story to keep your reader off balance and eliminate any chance of being predictable. Always trust your editors to do the rest.



What do you like to do to enjoy the Autumnal month of October and the Halloween holiday?

I enjoy this time of year. I love the Haunted attractions, hay rides and the celebration of Halloween. My favorite event to attend was at the Mt. Hope Winery in Pennsylvania. The Winery held a day with Edgar Allan Poe. They brought in an acting company dressed in period attire that interacted and sampled wine with its patrons between Poe readings they performed. Each character portrayed someone from Mr. Poe’s life. At the end of the readings Mr. Poe recited “The Raven.” After dark the winery opened a haunted village of attractions and vendors selling their wares on the grounds. Great day!


Thank you Scott for the interview. He's one of the ones to watch.  
BUY ME! - HORROISM @ AMAZON.COM

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Keys To Heaven -- Setting & Atmosphere


           "You're up in a minute, Peter."
            She slipped out of the waiting room and merged back into her duties on the oncology floor. Her black-beaded rosary caught a chair edge. It yanked the beads from her pocket. They rolled to the floor. She didn’t notice.
            Peter snapped open the morphine bottle and slipped out a little brown pill. He placed it on his tongue and grabbed his cup of cooled cappuccino—the only drink he could swallow passed the Berlin Wall in his throat. He gulped down the pill. Now, he waited for relief.
            He always waited.

--Key to Heaven by T. Fox Dunham
--Live at This Zine Will Change Your Life
 Please leave a comment if you'd like. . .

Tolya, Peter, Willy, Nurse Wolfe, Doctor Helsinki, can often be found in my fiction, tooling around in the patient waiting room of the radiation-oncology ward of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. They are characters featured in many of my stories published and pending, and they are the subjects of one of my upcoming novels. They represent aspects of my experience, my perception of what I suffered. The trauma of treatment wears you down, shatters you, and my eyes split into several pairs to see the world, several spirits to endure the pain. I scribe and scratch and gouge my words detailing life with cancer—and death after cancer—not through a desire to write: I struggle for catharsis and perhaps forgiveness. I survived. So many of my classmates did not.

Places exist that you can never leave. Roots grow up backwards inside you, burrowing through your feet and hands, piercing your eyes. Roots dig for your mind, and when you rip away from these lead-heavy domains, chunks of your soul tear free, leaving you but a shard of a person. Shamans know that places have spirits with the same character qualities as a person, and these locked spirits get up inside of you just as much as you leave parts of your soul behind to join and merge with energies of the place.

So much of me never left that private patient waiting room—still waiting to be led down the hall to lay on that ice table, have my head strapped down with tape and that wax tongue driven into my mouth to hold my head still while they burn me four times across my head, neck and chest. Every day for six months, I sat in the waiting room, separated from the families and caregivers of patients. No windows allowed light. No loved ones were there to hold my hand. I sat alone with the other dying. We waited. Always waiting in that purgatory, to suffer then enter our heavens, our hells, or be lucky enough to return to the living world.

Learning the spirit of a place is how authors compose compelling setting. A setting is more than a collection of details where the characters dwell. A setting is a character that interacts with your characters. More than just a repository of physical details, a place pulsates with emotion provoking nuances that are selected and described to create mood, atmosphere. A castle illuminated by a wild night-shattering thunderstorm compels a gothic atmosphere. A white castle decorated by blooming roses on the vine speak of old love legends. Settings can also depict themes.

           I climbed the sand dune back to the holy dive, Judgment Comes Motel, where I’m booked under the name of Father Butch Handy. Most of the self-righteousness holy men guests pray during the day and sneak chubby hookers up to their rooms at night. I dropped Moses, a disgraced Rabbi who watches the front desk after midnight, a few bills to keep his eyes on his magazine.

--Love Always Comes for You by T. Fox Dunham
--Live at Pulp Metal Magazine
 Please leave a comment after the story you mugs. . .


Love Always Comes for You is the sequel to my story Reflexes, also published at the mad abomination of a literary journal, Pulp Metal Magazine. Frank is an ex-hitman on the run. You’ll find out why if you read Reflexes. He decides to stay at said hotel for the ordained under the name of one of his victims. He sees himself as a kind of priest, preaching and practicing a faith to which so many subscribe while perfunctorily spending their Saturdays or Sundays at a house of worship, paying their dues to an afterlife just in case there’s something beyond death. The true practices of the hotel guests represent the dark side of humanity, the maggots under the rug, which illustrate the hard-boiled theme and atmosphere of the story.

Reflexes by T. Fox Dunham

Revenge is the theme of this issue of Pulp Metal Press, including work from some amazing authors. Give it a read. Go on! You didn't want to be an optimist forever?

---

Fox in the Mountains

So much published in the last two weeks, and I accumulated another ten acceptances for the month of July, tallying 40 so far for the summer. My literary work is picking up. I’ve been focusing more energy on my literary prose, trying to balance the field. I am pausing from fiction writing for a short time to rest, renew and feed my Awen—my creative spirit. I am getting back into roleplaying, D&D, the tossing of dice on tabletops, and I’ve founded a new rpg group at Royal Comics in Lansdale where I live. We have begun the game, and it is refreshing and will aid my writing. So much of my writing comes from my years behind a Game Master’s screen and rolling dice to tales I generated as we played. This is a beneficial art that shouldn’t be lost to online mmorpgs. I enjoy playing online games, but they are static and lack the improvised personal interaction of friends sitting around a table.

Salutations to all of you from the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania where I’m enjoying the fresh air and fishing over the next week. Check out my Facebook page for pics. It thunder-stormed this morning, and we sat out on the screened porch and enjoyed the wind and the rain.


 FOLLOW ME @ TWITTER: @TFoxDunahm





Monday, July 23, 2012

Battlespace Anthology Vol 1 for Charity with my Story: The First Mission of Lt. Seth-7


                “Emotion can’t be a strength,” Lt. Seth-7 said. He bandaged his punctured leg then sealed the hole in his suit. The wound would heal in a day. He ignored the pain piercing through the bone.
            “It is the only strength we have,” 1st Tech Sun said, breathing hard into the comm from running.
            The four of them darted down the lower corridor. Two more marines had fallen prey to the beasties. They’d paused to enjoy their meal, giving the remaining company time.
            “Perhaps it would be better if I remained a machine.”

--First Mission of Lt. Seth-7 in Battlespace Vol 1 by T. Fox Dunham




Battlespace Vol 1—an anthology of sci-fi & military themed stories set in space—is now available. It features my story The First Mission of Lt. Seth-7, a story in my Seth-7 series. The character and his universe were first featured as an audio play on Beam Me Up Live Radio and Podcasts, and I plan to write more stories to the series.

 Below is an interview with Keith Houin, one of the editors.

Seth-7 is a synthetic man, built of metal and gear and cog. His mind is pure energy, a woven electro-magnetic field that transfers and processes without a circuit of matter. His mind was sown on the quantum level. The story is set in future where humankind has settled the stars, building a galactic civilization. Born from the darkness of space and the human spirit comes a reaper, a dark entity that harvests the dead, building new weapons to consume. This Preacher—an archetype villain I name in many of my stories—obsesses over remaking creation with no regard for the soul. The human race plunges into a war lasting centuries for its survival, fighting genocide. Each time a veteran warrior perishes, the experience lost cannot be replaced, so they implant their soldiers with neural devices to record the experiences and minds. When a soldier dies, it is downloaded. The Paladins are created. They’re synthetic warriors who then have the experiences of the best warriors woven into their minds. The spiritual question of Seth-7 is about the soul:

What does it mean to have a soul? Where does the soul exist, and does Seth-7 possess it?

This is a charity anthology, created by the editors at The Sci-Fi show, a popular broadcast of sci-fi audio stories. All the money made from sales goes to benefit the Warrior Cry Music Project. Warrior Cry is a group of volunteers who work with wounded soldiers at bases around the country. They provide the soldiers with musical instruments and then teach them to play. Hit the link to learn more.

It was an honor to write a story to support this organization, and I was pleased and fulfilled in my work as a Bard when they accepted my story. The work they do is aligned to my Bardic goals. A Bard heals through creation of art. This motivates me to write, laboring to improve and assuage, to scribe salubrious stories to ease pain and heal damage to the body, mind and soul. A Bard heals through the Awen. The Awen is difficult to translate into English, a Welsh word, one of the six subdialects of Gaelic. It’s best compared to an organ of the spirit, a special soul where creative energies generate and apply. The Awen must be taken care of, exercised, fed and used to keep it vibrant and fecund. The Awen is my Bardic heart and a powerful tool to heal.


INTERVIEW WITH KEITH HOUIN:

This week, I sent Keith Houin, one of the editors, a few questions about the anthology and Warrior Cry.

Fox: Why did you choose the Warrior Cry Music Project to benefit by donations from the sale of Battlespace Vol 1?

Keith: It really was a tough choice. There are a lot of great organizations supporting wounded warriors around the world. We were sort of picky. We felt we needed a group that not only supported the wounded, but kind of matched up with us and our aspirations. Warrior Cry helps the wounded to be creative through music. We’re a bunch of creative guys that love music and talk about it often on our show. And yes, sometimes we attempt to play guitar and sing – not good playing or singing though.


Fox: Could you tell my foxes more about the Warrior Cry Music Project?

Keith: I’ll stick with their company line for this, but add one thing. A good friend who does lots of charity work with the wounded warriors connected me with them. The recommendation came with the highest honors from a guy who has committed his entire life to helping others. Warrior Cry is a group of volunteers who work with wounded soldiers at bases around the country. They provide the soldiers with musical instruments and then teach them to play. Music is a great form of physical and mental therapy. Working closely with therapists to create a positive educational and therapeutic music program, Warrior Cry gives wounded soldiers something positive to work toward and helps to get their minds off of their injuries. Music also helps get our wounded soldiers out of their shell and interested in socializing with others. Warrior Cry works with other groups and non-profits to help better the lives of soldiers that were wounded in battle.


Fox: What do you hope to accomplish with the anthology?

Keith: The ultimate goal is to help change a life. It’s really that simple. I would love to reach a thousand dollars or more in donations a month, but I would be satisfied with buying a single guitar for a veteran’s hospital music room, or providing lessons for a single soldier during rehab.

Keith: My second goal is to promote some new writers. There are so many great stories out there that never get seen, because the publishing world is just a tough gig. If we can help one writer gain an audience that would be a gift in itself.


Fox: What are some of your favorite stories in the book, the ones that had
you all giddy and running to play with your Star Wars action figures?

Keith: Well I have to love mine. Seriously. Stefan Alford’s, The Code, had me right away. We’re old friends and I’m reading his book The Unveiling so I might be a little bias, but putting on the editor’s hat and picking apart every line, it was still hard to find something I didn’t like. It’s not a completely new premise, but he really did it well. You asked for favorites. I don’t think you have space for all of them, Cliff Gilmore and his Faitheaters story, William R.D. Wood with And Kill Them. You’re asking a lot with that question. I’ll have to go back and read them all again. Really. There were so many stories that struck me. It was kind of like reliving all my years of reading scifi. My taste has changed over the years, but I think all my taste of writing styles was covered. With the exception of comic books.


Fox: And how is the book doing?

Keith: The best way to say this is probably steadily moving along. Some days it's one sale. Some days five. We need everyone to help support and promote it. Every dime we pay for advertising is a dime that could have went to a wounded vet. What I have found so far is that sales directly from me and my box of print copies make my day. People think it’s great you have a book out. When they find out where the money goes they want three copies signed with a message to a friend or loved one.

Keith contact info: keith@myscifishow.com or press@myscifishow.com
Facebook: Battlespace Anthology on Facebook

I thank you Keith Houin for being interviewed.
--------

Fox Updates:

So it’s been a good month. After the completion of New World, my first complete novella, I have been taking it a bit easier, having some rest, and writing shorter fiction. I'm dealing with a nasty cardiac issue, a post chemo problem, and it's proving dangerous. So once again, I'm dancing madly on the edge of a cliff. The only piece of long fiction I finished this month, Their Last Dance in the Rain, was just accepted by Firbolg Publishing for their new anthology. I’ve been focusing on literary fiction mostly, having burned out somewhat on horror and requiring some rest.

New World, my zombie novella about a cancer patient who decides to go a on a road trip to Florida to be with his online girlfriend during the last days of civilization, has been well received by the editor. She’s excited to have it, and we’re talking about a series. I will be writing the introduction to May December Publishing’s charity zombie anthology, The Sick & the Dead. It will benefit the V Foundation for Cancer Research. I’ll be posting a link below for any author who would like more information.



Also, my dear friend Morning Star has been busy drawing her favorite character from my Ragtime Cycles, Poison Sumac. This is her latest portrait of the drag queen owner of the Pink Gopher, where she distributes the narcotic of mind, body and soul, Ragtime.

“A strange man comes to see this Lady in the night, when men rip apart men to ribbons and shreds, burning flesh with burning oil while they cry out to a deaf god. How it turns this Lady on.”
--Ragtime Ascension by T. Fox Dunham

--Artwork by Sara Lewis, known as the Artist Morning Starr

Sara has a unique perception of beauty, skewed from popular concepts, which is why she was perfect to draw my nihilist goddess, the drag-queen Poison Sumac. Sara adores Sumac. I also semi-based the steampunk warrior protagonist Starbat from the Tick-Tock Heart of StarBat on her spirit and name.

I am currently working on the fourth story in the Ragtime Cycles—Ragtime Schism—and developing the novel, which I plan to develop into a screenplay for a noir anime.


Ragtime can be read at the following links:

Ragtime at Doctor Fantasque's Show of Wonders:

Ragtime Ascension in A Clockwork Orchard Rivets & Rain by May December Publishing:

Ticktock Heart of Starbat at Jake's Anthologies:

I thank you for reading my recent updates on my blog. Please follow me on Twitter for all the latest Fox News. Thank Foxy Blokes and Birds!
TWITTER: @TFox Dunham


Friday, July 6, 2012

RAGTIME & Writing Character Voice


                 “How did you know I’d drink the moonshine? You must have known from observing me that I don’t touch the serpent’s venom.”
            Sumac giggled and sneered and sucked on her ersatz cigarette. She tittered with her teeth, biting on the cigarette holder.
            “You struggle against chaos. You fight to hold it at bay, but it overwhelms you, the tide rushing in. Dance on your toes, but you can’t hold it back. And you longed so for it. In your eyes, I could see it—how you’ve chased the darkness, hoping for its embrace. Emancipation. Freedom. All I had to do was put the glass in front of you and curl my lips and show my smooth, lovely thighs. You were sniffing for it.”

—Ragtime Ascension (Ragtime Cycles) by T. Fox Dunham
A Clockwork Orchard: Rivets & Rain published by May December Publications

At the heart of effective character is the unique spirit, yet also there is the same core identity prototypical to the human animal. I have observed people all my life: listened to their life stories, watched their actions, remarked on the common cycles and motivations that compel them. I have discovered that every person is an individual, but the human heart is identical in its needs. No matter how different people are, the same needs drive them in life.

People want to be loved and are scared of being hurt.

Of course, in life there are many gray shades and complex mathematical matrices to identity. My statement is a generalization, but it is supported; and though I still have much to learn about the human heart, I can put it present it with confidence. There are exceptions to this axiom, as with all systems, and these exceptions also make for fascinating characters.

When writing characters, it is important to remember that fiction is not a report on reality or real life. Like the stage, narrative fiction is its own plane, a surreal reality. This is an art form that has evolved for centuries. We are writing of dramatized reality. Characters can’t be copies of real people. They are the extremes, the archetypes, the deities and symbols. We already have a medium for direct reality, facts reported and life witnessed. Fiction is a different format. That’s why most real life stories need to be reorganized and dramatized, applied to a dramatic pattern, an arc that builds.

My characters are never clones from life. I never take a person I know and represent them exactly in my work. My characters are composites, elements of several people and myself in varying levels, blended together then shaped in extremes of the physical, emotional-mental and spiritual. A character’s soul is his or her voice. My readers often comment that even though some of my characters have minute physical presence, their characterization is strong, indelible because of their voice. Their voice defines character: how they see the world, respond to changes, grow and change.

A character’s voice is their soul, the way they digest their world and give back to it.

* * *

The Lady Poison Sumac, Drag Dancer at the Pink Gopher.

Poison Sumac is an iconic character in my Ragtime Cycles. She is a transvestite, a drag queen. She is chaos manifested in a human shell. Born in the burned wastes leftover from the Wild-Eyed Fire—the great conflagration which ended the modern era of humanity—the child Poison Sumac lived in a barbarian’s world that had no regard for law or life. Her milieu helped define her, educated her. Chaos became her faith. She has one goal: to aid and watch society collapse then dance while it burns. This is her character voice, and it was defined by her birth, the setting of her life and confirmed by the actions of the people around her. This seeded in Sumac, growing inside, devouring and transforming until it became Sumac’s nature.

               “You’re going to cover the world in darkness,” she said. “I must love you.”
            “All the equipment is still in my home, the cathedral. With sound, vibration I will renew, invigorate. I will tell him how proud I am, how wrong I was. He will wrap his hands around my neck and kiss my cheeks. I will make him immortal.”
            She clapped like a child, pleased by the clowns in the show.
            “How terribly cruel,” she said.

—Ragtime by T. Fox Dunham
From Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders

In the Ragtime Cycles, Poison Sumac is the dealer of Ragtime—a narcotic that not only alters the body but also the mind and the spirit. It is a remnant of the old paradise, the sum and final product of a course of science and evolution. It survived The Wild-Eyed Fire and was kept and guarded like a religious artifact until it found its way into the possession of Sumac. She saw it as the fire to burn it all, to expose the truth of the human animal, the ridiculous nature of life. Sumac is a nihilist. Life is an error to her, a cosmic mistake, and she finds elements of society like law and decency to be fraudulent, a lark. To her, sex, love, loyalty, and faith are vapid, meaningless. They are expressions of vanity, futility. All life ends and is forgotten. While people scream in terror at the inevitable darkness, she laughs at them. She giggles wildly into the night.

So she serves the Preacher, the nameless figurehead of the city with no name. Such names are forbidden. Names give power. The people of this last city secretly have named it after a line from a poem that survived the Wild-Eyed Fire. They whisper the name of the city: Lovers Be Lost. She aids in The Preacher’s plans for ascension, using the drug Ragtime, but she is not motivated by duty or faith. She observes only to see him fail, to affirm her own absence of faith and acceptance of what she believes is the true nature of life.

Poison Sumac exists to pleasure herself in the suffering of others as their plans of control fail. This is her nature, her voice, how she sees the cosmos. You will see it clearly in narratives I have copied, and you will find it sutured into the stories.

Three stories have been published so far in the Ragtime Cycles. I have listed the previous two. A third story, The Tick-Tock Heart of Starbat, was published in Jake’s Anthologies Punk Issue. Starbat was partly based on my close friend Star, who has drawn some of the sketches of Poison Sumac. I hope to have a recent sketch to link to this blog.

I am developing the stories into an anthology and planning a novel. I will then script this novel, and I am seeking a production company to turn it into a noir animated film. I need a good publisher or production company if you're interested.

WRITING CHARACTER VOICE:

The best advice I can give in writing character voice is to define your character’s nature then let it fill you. When I write, I give life to my characters, and I hollow myself out with a melon baller. I turn my person into a pipe organ that my characters can play. Character voice is their nature, the sum of what they are. Some of that does come from you as the author, but your characters also require autonomy to be able to truly express themselves. They are extreme in nature, unlike real people who tend to blend in with the group. As an author, you need to turn over control of your narrative to your characters, to allow them to move as motivated by their natures. This risks your well conceived plans and plot, and if you’re doing it right, your characters will often through a bowling ball into your hall of mirrors. Your characters will rebel against your conscription, to the rigid confinement of your designs, and if you listen to them, they will steer your narratives in new and surprising ways.

* * *

And make sure to pick up a copy of A Clockwork Orchard: Rivets & Rain from May December Publishing. I am honored to be included with such talented authors. 


The TOC for our Steampunk Anthology – A Clockworks Orchard: Rivets and Rain: Michael Seese,  Never Mind The Nonsense, Here’s The Sex Truncheons – Paul Boulet, Skymanned City – Mark Jones, Running Out of Steam – Adam Millard, A Clockwork Orang(utan) – Dorothy Reede, A Demonstration of Loyalty – McAbee Gail, Sheriff Holt and the Purple Stagecoach Mystery – Bob Lock, Il Risorgimento – T Fox Dunham, Ragtime Ascension- Christopher Eger, The Assassins Assassin – and Jill Watts, Feast of Souls.



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 * * *

New Sun Rising Anthology



I also want to ask my readers to pickup a copy of The New Sun Rising Anthology, edited by the illustrious and determined Annie Evett and teeming with poetry, short fiction, artwork and spirit of some of the best of international talents—somehow I snuck in there too for my story, Cherry Blossoms Never Die. Money raised by the anthology will go to support The Red Cross in its efforts to rebuild after the nuclear accident and natural disaster that struck Japan.

What I love about this anthology is that it is a reminder of the beauty of Japan. Where other anthologies chronicled the natural disaster, New Sun Rising set out to showcase the soul of that ancient and mythical land and remind the world why it must be preserved.

I thank you Annie Evett for an inspiring job and your diligence in seeing the project through.